Whos keeping an eye on me....

Monday, 29 August 2016

South Africa 2016 - Kruger Park Mopani to Shingwedzi

I have a new favourite rest camp, Mopani. It is set in a woodland, we felt more secluded (even though we still had neighbours), but I thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic garden bird list of 30+ and add a very close encounter from a Honey Badger that entertained us for 40 minutes, even though it was at the cost of ransacking our bin.

We also added a new antelope species with Tsessebe and saw our first Klipspringers of the trip.

There were some magnificent highlights too, Stunning close views of a Leopard, a Waterhole scene out of a wildlife documentary, and witnessed Lions mating.

We drove even further north for a day trip to Shingwezi rest camp which has a reputation of the area being some of the best uninterrupted wildlife viewing in the park.

Enjoy the wildlife of Lower Northern Kruger Park!

Typical  winter colours of the Mopani bushes

After leaving Olifants we headed towards Mopani via Letaba (this rest camp would be our final stop over in a few days time). 
This Klipspringer was resting at the side of the road and was one of a pair

We didn't realise how much quieter the roads would be and certainly didn't realise that we would have an amazing half hour at Middlevlei waterhole completely on our own. We pulled up and immediately noticed a few Zebra that seemed on edge. Then we witnessed a Spotted Hyena come out o the bushes and head for the waterhole, quickly followed by two Elephants and two Black Backed Jackals, and throw in a huge Kori Bustard.

Zebra takes evasive action form the Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena

The Big4, Kori Bustard, Black Backed Jackal, Elephant and Spotted Hyena
Kori Bustard and Black Backed Jackal

We booked into Mopani and quickly left as we wanted to visit as far north as we could in a day trip so headed towards Shingwedzi. We had now well and truly left the open savannah and were now deep in the golden colour of Mopani trees and bushes. It wasn't long before a few new trip birds were seen, African Green Pigeon and Red Faced Mousebird, while I managed a few life birds as well.
Red faced Mousebird
We continued from Mopani past the Tropic of Capricorn where if feeling brave you can get out of the car to walk the line and see the marker boulder..... we felt brave!

We continued north along the H1-6 when a car infront stopped suddenly, he had gone too far, we were perfect, along side our car posed this stunning Leopard.

we managed a few images  before the car in front hastily turned round his car and immediately disturbed the cat who climbed down off his rock and into the bush. I am convinced the Leopard would have happily sat there a while longer .
What a morning, stunning wildlife and incredibly good views too.
We just had time before reaching Shingwedzi to add a new species of antelope to our list with a few herds of Tesessebe.

I would add 6 new life birds to my list before we reached Shingwedzi
Purple Roller, Long Tailed Paradise Whydah, Wattled Starling, African Openbill, Sabota Lark and Red Billed Quelea.
Purple Roller
Red Billed Quelea
Yellow billed Stork keeps an eye on the croc
African Fish Eagle
Shingwedzi camp
by comparison of the morning the return journey back to Mopani would be fairly uneventful apart form the normal herds of Elephants, Zebra and Impala.

a superb days wildlife spotting was capped off by having the Honey Badger in our garden for 30 minutes or so as it ransacked our bin and gave very close views as it ate our brai waste.
Tomorrow we take a morning Bushwalk around Mopani and I do a spot of top class garden birding.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

South Africa 2016 - Olifants, and Satara area

In 2013 we had been as far north as Olifants, this trip we toured further north still. It turned out to be a great idea. This post is dedicated to the Satara to Olifants area.

Overall I think we saw less animals as the open savannah of Satara disappears and  becomes more populated with Mopane trees and bushes, views from the roads are more hindered..... however the views that we had were better....... far better. The areas visited were less populated with tourists which meant that we had some of the most wonderful sights to ourselves.

The Olifants river is a haven for all species of wildlife and gave us superb views of the larger species of Mammal and bird.  The river was  only part full and almost completely dry in places. One a particularly blustery morning from the camp we had a sky full of Vultures, Eagles and Storks.... quite a sight. I had a glimpse of a Palm Nut Vulture, but was unable to get the camera in time for the conclusive evidence.

We also utilised the time to revisit some of the Satara areas that were easily doable as a day trip from Olifants.

Enjoy the wildlife.

Southern Ground Hornbill
Not particularly easy to see now, as sightings are somewhat rarer nowadays, but great to see this family, there were actually 3, and we would see an immature bird later on.

Ellies..... giving a warning!

Black Crake
A life bird for me and pretty easy to see if you could afford 30 minutes around the edges of rivers

Cape Sparrow..... common as muck! not in Kruger.
It seems this is a good sighting by me as they are extremely rare in Kruger.

Chestnut Backed Sparrowlark, rubbish pic, great bird

Crested Barbet

Lilac Breasted Roller

The next 3 images are immediately after I heard a loud commotion whilst travelling towards Olifants. Two Crowned Lapwings fought off a Slender Mongoose

Slender Mongoose

 Leopard Tortoise

Sabota Lark
White Headed Vulture soaring over Olifants
 From Olifants we were able to revisit the Satara area for a day trip and here the Wildebeest are just outside Satara rest camp 
this image doesn't depict it very well, but this herd were in a boisterous mood as they chased each other around, while others took dust baths and were generally in a fun mood!

the same day visit produced this young male Lion relaxing

Magpie Shrike, very common but a striking species
Olifants and the large expanse of river are a good place for the larger species, this Marabou Stork is one of many that were along the river often sharing the space with large flocks of Vultures

Vultures and Storks

Hippos "Lazing on a Sunday afternoon"

Waterbuck drinks from the waters edge
This is a typical scene along the Olifants river, large herds of Elephants on the move

Where there are Elephants, there is usually Hippos.....
Saddle-billed Stork.
The best view yet, and actually not very close to the river but along the roadside, a stunning creature

and finally for this post
a rather big tusker!
It was just too close for my lens, so a close in full frame in yer face Elephant

After being alerted to a website called Tuskers of Africa, I know the name of this fella.
He has a good ID feature with this hole in his right ear.

Next stop Mopani, Letaba